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Qatar complains of bias over World Cup bid

14 February 2015 21:11

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A Qatari official says the country has been the target of “clear bias” following Michael Garcia’s FIFA report into the bidding process for hosting the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.

Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of the World Cup 2022 Committee, said in a Friday interview that Qatar was the only country in the spotlight despite the fact that there had been other countries involved in the bidding process, including Russia that is hosting the 2018 World Cup.

“I can’t say if there is a prejudice against Qatar but what I can say is there is a clear bias,” Thawadi added.

“All the reporting on Michael Garcia, the description was, the focus was on us, on Qatar, and that was inaccurate. The simple fact was the investigation was on all bidding nations, 2018 along with 2022,” he pointed out.

American lawyer Michael Garcia, FIFA’s ethics investigator, launched an investigation into allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup to be hosted by Russia and Qatar respectively.

A 42-page summary of Garcia’s 430-page report was published in November 2014, clearing Russia and Qatar of serious wrongdoing during the bidding process. He stepped down after his appeal against the decision to publish what he denounced as an “erroneous” summary of his report was dismissed, triggering speculations that his report may have been distorted to favor the World Cup hosts.

Qatar has seen controversy over the timing of the tournament that is traditionally held in July and June when temperature in the Persian Gulf country exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Qatari officials are due to meet with bosses of FIFA later in February in the capital, Doha, to finalize a date of the event. Many believe that the tournament will take place in the winter despite Qatar’s argument that it has plans for the games to be played in stadiums with cooling technology.

Qatar has also faced complaints over the rights abuse of migrant workers used for the construction of facilities needed for the tournament in the oil-rich nation.

Migrant workers account for nearly 75 percent of Qatar’s tiny population of nearly 2.2 million, but many of them have been employed under the kafala system, which stipulates that laborers cannot change job or leave Qatar without permission from their sponsor.

The International Trade Union Confederation stated in June 2014 that up to 4,000 migrant workers could die in construction site accidents by 2022.

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